ABOUT THE BOOK:
A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart's capacity for forgiveness...Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers--Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.
As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life--both professionally and personally--throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.
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The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin is a 2018 Berkley publication.
A suspenseful and emotional medical drama
Zadie and Emma have been best friends since their medical school days. They come from completely different backgrounds, but the friendship has endured countless trials, marriages, children, and demanding careers. Their lives are hectic, and filled with family and career related challenges, triumphs, and tragedies. They share all of it with one another, asking and giving advice, sympathizing with, and supporting one another. But, the one thing they never, ever, never talk about is their third year in Med school…
Imagine all the angst, medical intensity, the emotion, heartbreak, tragedy and high drama of Grey’s Anatomy, but with a darker, edgier, suspenseful tone running beneath the surface.
Queen of Hearts has this bipolar thing going on. On one hand, it’s a chick-lit novel about besties who stick with each other through all of life’s various valleys and peaks, but there’s a ‘dark side’, a sinister feeling of foreboding, of impending doom. It’s not just the emotional gut-punches, the graphic medical situations, or the appearance of Dr. X, who will most assuredly bring down all the carefully constructed walls built by Zadie and Emma when it comes to the past, and who also holds the power in the palm of his gifted hands, to once again, leave devastation in his wake.
It’s like watching a train wreck. You know it’s coming, but you are helpless to stop it, and you can’t tear your eyes away from the impending impact, or the carnage left behind.
I finished reading this book over two weeks ago. It has taken me this long to formulate my feelings. When I turned that last page I experienced a fuzzy feeling of disorientation. I really had to take some time to process it.
Finally, I think I can attempt to explain my thoughts. I admit I had quite a few conflicting feelings about how everything played out. Wow. I mean- wow. Once I had begun to form an opinion that would stick, I realized I couldn’t really explain how I had come to that point without giving too much away.
This review is long, and contains a lot of introspection and retrospection on my part, but it’s the mark of a good story when it prompts the reader to dig deeper and reflect on what they might do in a similar situation. It’s a gritty medical drama, but it’s also an ode to life, family, and above all friendship. So bear with me.
What a tangled web we weave….
Lies, betrayals, manipulations, and secrets- this book has them packed in so tight it can hardly contain them all. I still can’t wrap my head around some of it, and my feelings are still unsettled, even now. This story is part cautionary tale, partly a tale of borderline obsession, with a river of deception, envy, insecurities and competition. But, rest assured- your sins will always find you out. You can bury them, ignore them, hide them, and run from them, but eventually the truth bubbles to the surface. There are always consequences for our actions, some that take no prisoners, who hurt the very people we love and respect. Everyone has a secret, everyone has made questionable decisions, let our morals sink below our own standards. Atonement is a must, redemption hoped for. But, it is forgiveness that is the hardest thing to accomplish, but it is also the most powerful, effective ability humans are capable of.
Now, I can’t sit here and tell you my feelings are completely settled about this story, as I continue to struggle with ongoing conflicts. But, I think the story speaks to the powerful, but mysterious bonds of friendship. Friendship is a relationship like no other. It can be fraught with insecurities and jealousies, and is fragile in a way many other relationships are not, being devoid of familial bonds or the power of romantic love. Yet, it can create an unshakable bond, a special kind of love, a fierce loyalty and devotion, it brings out a certain kind of protectiveness and can often endure hardships that other relationships would never survive.
While there is a lot of emotional turmoil in this story, many heart rending situations and high drama, there is also the ‘light’ side of the story. The side where people rise to the occasion and do the right thing, where something good comes from something bad, and where the good side wins out in the end!
This story turned out to be much more than I had anticipated. I was on pins and needles from start to finish, swallowed a painful lump or two, cursed, fretted, and fumed. But, when all was said and done, I think this was a very well -constructed novel, filled with human foibles, realistic family challenges, and amazing depictions of human beings at their very worst, but also at their finest. Not only that, I love medical dramas- oh- and southern fiction- so there's that, too! 😊
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kimmery Martin is a doctor, book reviewer, author interviewer, traveler, and obsessive reader. Her debut novel, The Queen of Hearts, was a huge hit among three of her friends before being picked up by Penguin Random House. Kimmery lives in North Carolina with her husband, three children, and the world's most obstinate dog. You can read more of her writing, including travelogues, book reviews, and social commentary at www.kimmerymartin.com.